Upper stage engine of GLONASS rocket exploded in Earth orbit

On the explosion of one of the artificial objects in near-Earth orbit on Tuesday, May 3, the 18th

US Space Defense Squadron. According to the organization, object No. 32398 collapsed on April 15. The organization continues to monitor the movement of 16 fragments of the module, which can be identified.

According to astrophysicist Jonathan McDowell ofHarvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, object No. 32398 is the engine of the launch support system for the upper stage of the rocket, which launched three GLONASS satellites into orbit back in 2007.

The researcher notes that these satellites werelaunched on a Russian Proton rocket. At the same time, two small engines of the launch support system were installed on the upper stage of the rocket. The task of these mechanisms is to slightly accelerate the movement of the rocket stages in order to ensure the correct location of the fuel in the tanks when the engine is restarted.

"The engines of the launch support system (POS) are notconsume all their fuel at launch. And they have a nasty tendency to explode years or decades later, leaving a pile of debris in a highly elliptical orbit. At least 54 POPs engines have exploded so far,” McDowell tweeted.

Space debris is a growing problem forsatellite operators and mission planners. According to the European Space Agency (ESA), about 36.5 thousand fragments of debris larger than 10 cm and at least a million objects from 1 to 10 cm rotate in near-Earth orbit. Previously, Hitech told how dangerous this could be.

Cover photo: ESA/ID&Sense/ONiRiXEL

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